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Being More Thoughtful with “News and Goods”

The New Initiative on Ending Classism, which I proposed in the July 2014 Present Time, is producing good results where people have been able to work in sessions on the directions suggested in it. Some things are becoming clearer. For example, we could improve how we use “news and goods” at the beginning of classes and workshops.

I recently counseled two working-class leaders on their struggle to stay active in their Area leaders’ classes. One person said, “I come determined to participate and feel part of the group, and halfway through ‘news and goods’ I am gone; I have completely lost my attention.”

Both mentioned how hard it is to listen to “news and goods” in a mostly middle- and owning-class group, to have the unaware class oppression show itself immediately at the beginning of class, especially during an activity that is supposed to get their attention out.

Maybe having a big, expensive vacation in a faraway place was a personal success of some kind, but sharing it as a “new and good” might not be encouraging to everyone. Maybe having a massage made a big difference in the week, but some people in the class may never have the money, time, or attention to enjoy such a luxury.

It is good to instead share successes that are encouraging to everyone. They might be successes in relationships or increased understanding or use of RC. For example: “I was able to have a good discussion with my son about his sexism, and it brought us closer.” Or “I finally had some attention to call my mother and tell her that I love her. I have struggled with that for years.” Or “I finally was able to figure out what Tim* has been saying about early defeats and have a good session on it.”

I counseled two other working-class people on their feelings about being RC leaders and having their children in rehabilitation programs to overcome addictions. They both felt that they could not talk about this in RC—that people would see them as bad parents and not qualified to be leaders. I said to one of them, “Having one’s child in rehab is a ‘new and good.’ It sometimes takes a lot to make that happen.”

It is hard when people cannot appreciate these kinds of things. In working-class groups, they are often our most important “news and goods.” No one is judged on the level of oppression they face in their lives. People get to be appreciated for the commitment and caring they are able to bring to their struggles.

The oppression is not our fault, and it is probably not going to go away soon no matter what session we take on it. Knowing that people of other classes also struggle to overcome difficulties in their lives helps us to feel more human and part of the group.

It’s also good for us to remember that most RCers who identify as working class have become upwardly mobile and may be as unaware as anyone else and that we working-class people are in an oppressor role in relation to those who were raised or are currently poor. Also, depending on our country, we may be economically in an oppressor role with regard to most of the world’s people.

Dan Nickerson

International Liberation Reference Person for Working-Class People

Freeport, Maine, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

Tim Jackins

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00